"Halloween Ends"

Review: 'Halloween Ends'

JC Alvarez READ TIME: 3 MIN.

The original "Scream Queen" is back, perhaps for the last time. Hollywood icon Jamie Lee Curtis returns to the role that made her a household name and elevated a genre. As the Final Girl of John Carpenter's 1978 "Halloween," Curtis' Laurie Strode emerged as a legend, and in her wake inspired generations of cinematic descendants, as psychopath after masked psychopath carved a bloody path to this moment in the cinematic experience. "Halloween Ends," the third act in the contemporary film franchise, promises to finally close the circle and bring a properly earned conclusion to the terrifying reign of the night Michael Myers came home – 40 years later!

To recap the first two films in the new trilogy: Laurie trained herself to become the ultimate survivalist, but the effort alienated her from her family. Inevitably, Michael Myers escaped from the psyche ward he had been locked up in and returned to his stomping grounds.

Carnage ensued, and Strode fought for her life again – only, this time, with a family to defend. The people of Haddonfield rose up against the monster, but failed to defeat Michael Myers. The town was left haunted and hollow. Laurie is determined to pick up the pieces and provides some optimism in the life that she's left with. Her granddaughter Allyson (Andi Matichak), having been orphaned by Michael Myers in the earlier films, is now a registered nurse. When Allyson hooks up with Haddonfield's most troubled soul, a young man named Corey (Rohan Campbell), Laurie is terrified of what she sees when she looks into his eyes: An all-too-familiar blank expression that reminds her of the evil that has plagued their town.

Danny McBride and David Gordon Green appeared determined to make a statement about the horror film genre when they resuscitated the "Halloween" franchise. The first "reboot" was about Laurie fighting for her spirit; the second was about fighting for a town that had lost its soul; and the third is about an ending. It just doesn't seem to "end" in a way that one would have ever imagined. It's a particularly dark and hopeless chapter that doesn't lead to the redemption audiences may have been anticipating.

For much of "Halloween Ends," Michael Myers is relegated to a specter that works his way through the shadows, and the fragile psyche of his first victim, before revealing himself. For two-thirds of the movie, it's his ghost that is doing much of the damage. It's the idea of Michael Myers, "The Shape," that is terrorizing the town. Laurie fights to reconnect with Allyson, who appears to be losing her way. It's hard to swallow, given what's been narratively established of this "next generation" final girl who is introduced as fiercely independent. The jump scares here aren't as well-placed as in other genre favorites like "Scream," and the kills aren't as blunt as they were in this trilogy's more gory predecessors, but "Halloween Ends" still ranks as the most disturbing installment in the franchise.

Jamie Lee Curtis is as compelling as ever, breathing a vibrance into Laurie Strode that defines her veracity as the only person who can take on the terror behind the mask. Curtis has a way of elevating the movie beyond the slasher genre. "Halloween Ends" truly is a deep examination of survival, surviving trauma, and discovering a way of facing one's fears to emerge on the other side. Whatever the monster you're forced to face, you can't do it alone. The people of Haddonfield thrive by leaning on one another and looking evil in the eye. Michael Myers, unfortunately, isn't the monster that movie fans are used to rooting for, and with his age showing this may be the end of him once and for all.

"Halloween Ends" may signal the closing curtain for Jamie Lee Curtis' Laurie Strode, but who knows what might be lurking around the next corner. Unfortunately, evil is capable of taking on many different shapes, and another Halloween is just a year away.

"Halloween Ends" premieres in theaters on October 14 and is also streaming exclusively on Peacock.

by JC Alvarez

Native New Yorker JC Alvarez is a pop-culture enthusiast and the nightlife chronicler of the club scene and its celebrity denizens from coast-to-coast. He is the on-air host of the nationally syndicated radio show "Out Loud & Live!" and is also on the panel of the local-access talk show "Talking About".

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